The PLAYer level is the first step in The First Tee Life Skills Program, and it is where all juniors who are 7 years and older begin at The First Tee. Our chapter divided the PLAYer level into two sub-levels, PLAYer 1 (for participants who are 7 and 8 years old) and PLAYer 2 (for participants 9 and up) Having the classes separated by age groups at this point creates a more friendly environment where juniors can interact with peers of their same age groups.
The PLAYer level introduces playing the game of golf with special emphasis on learning The First Tee Code of Conduct, core values, golf skills, and healthy habits as well as appreciating the etiquette and rules of the game of golf. Mastering these skills allows juniors to better understand the curriculum delivered at subsequent levels in The First Tee (Par, Birdie, Eagle, Ace) and become not only better golfers, but better people as well.
The PLAYer level has been designed to expose participants of all ages and ability levels to the game of golf and its inherent values through purposeful games and golf learning activities. If you have previously observed a PLAYer class, you will notice that each golf lesson is delivered by having young participants play different games allowing them to practice and exhibit the particular skill and core value being discussed that day.
Why start at the PLAYer Level?
The development of the PLAYer level is based on a variety of sources, including eight years of Chapter network feedback, third party research, programming and operations data, and a pilot program of 20 chapters and over 1,000 participants! Based upon this feedback The First Tee Home Office set the standards for the PLAYer level as it was determined they would result in greater levels of impact on and off the golf course.
The PLAYer Curriculum
As the PLAYer level is the foundation for The First Tee Life Skills Experience, the curriculum introduces juniors to The First Tee Nine Core Values: Respect, Courtesy, Responsibility, Honesty, Sportsmanship, Confidence, Judgment, Perseverance, Integrity, as well as The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits: Energy, Play, Safety, Mind, Vision, School, Community, Friends, and Family. Each week of class covers one of these Core Values and Healthy Habits, all while juniors participate and practice the golf games set up by the coaches.
During class, and throughout their experience in the PLAYer level, juniors also refer to their Yardage Book (cover of book pictured below), a small booklet that serves as a guide for the PLAYer level and contains activities and knowledge necessary to get juniors started with golf.
The PLAYer Yardage Book
In addition to this, juniors in the PLAYer level, as well as other subsequent levels in The First Tee receive a bag tag, which contains the information juniors and parents can use to track their progress through the PLAYer level. The front side of the bag tag includes the participant’s name and which The First Tee Chapter they attend, while the back contains the list of requirements juniors must complete in order to complete or “certify” for the PLAYer level. The bag tag for PLAYer is pictured below:
The PLAYer Certification
The process of advancing through each of the levels in The First Tee (excluding TARGET) involves becoming familiar with the curriculum at each level, but also requires juniors to exhibit what The First Tee calls “observable behaviors”; in other words, having participants adopt the values covered in PLAYer (shaking hands when meeting someone, or showing good sportsmanship whenever they play a game) and displaying them on their own, without the prompt of parents or coaches. Having juniors participate in more than one PLAYer session helps achieve this objective, and helps them on the right track for the process of certification; which is the process where The First Tee measures how well juniors have retained and applied both their life skills, as well as their golf skills.
Currently, the certification process in PLAYer requires juniors to complete the following:
- Participate in at least 2 sessions in PLAYer 1 (for juniors ages 7-8), or 1 session in PLAYer 2 (for juniors ages 9 and up)*
- Play one 9-hole round of golf in a fast, safe, and courteous manner, holing out on every hole. Juniors are required to submit a signed scorecard to their coach or chapter office in order to mark this requirement as completed.
- Complete a 9-hole putting course during an assessment day in 32 strokes or less.
- Score 80% or higher on 15 written (or verbal) questions. This is one of the two written assessments checking for a participant’s knowledge and understanding of the Core Values in PLAYer.
- Score 80% or higher on 10 written (or verbal) questions. This is the second of the written assessments that checks for participant’s understanding of golf rules.
- Having their bag tag completed and signed by a coach, as well as their yardage book.
Once juniors complete these requirements, they will be ready for the next level in The First Tee: Par. This level will introduce juniors to self-management techniques, and discuss a more complex curriculum that will continue to help them become better golfers and even better people.
Do you have any questions about the PLAYer level? Let us know!: email@example.com
* The First Tee Home Office recommends participants in the PLAYer level receive at least 27 hours of exposure to the curriculum in PLAYer. This is to enable participants to be exposed to the curriculum multiple times, and to allow juniors to explore and apply these life skills and core values in different settings on and off the golf course.